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Publication Date: 19 Apr 2012
Publisher: SPCK Publishing
Page Count: 128
Author: Lorraine Cavanagh
ISBN-13: 9780281065851, 9780281065868

Finding God in Other Christians

By Lorraine Cavanagh
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ISBN: 9780281065851
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ISBN: 9780281065868
As we journey in faith, many of us begin to find God in the context of more than one kind of churchmanship. Even if we feel happy where we are, we may benefit greatly from getting out of our particular church 'comfort zone' in order to encounter God in new ways through Christians whose priorities and styles of worship are at variance with our own. This book calls us to a deeper and more compassionate approach to the challenges of diversity among Christians. It addresses issues such as: Are Christians meant to be more than friends? Jesus Christ as our common identity; Violence between Christians; Radical hospitality; Dealing with difference; The meaning of God among us, and finally, Christians in Christ and for the world.
About the Author
The Revd Dr Lorraine Cavanagh is a retired university chaplain and the author of By One Spirit: Reconciliation and renewal in Anglican life (Peter Lang, 2009, with Preface by the Archbishop of Canterbury) and Making Sense of God's Love (SPCK, June 2011).
Press Reviews

Finding God in Other Christians is a laudable and readable attempt
to inspire Christians to work for a more generous-spirited and open
dialogue with those with whom they disagree. Drawing on the author’s
experience of chaplaincy at Cardiff University, it focuses on how to
improve relations for Christians who feel a sense of unity with some of
their fellow Christians, while at the same time feeling divided against
others. Cavanagh asks what sort of peace it is in which we keep our
distance from one another. ‘Is it a matter of anything for a quiet life?
Or is there a real yearning for reconciliation?’ (p. ix) Is it acceptable to
say that we love God while being content to despise and condemn our
brothers and sisters (cf. 1 John 4.20)? Cavanagh’s answer is a resounding
‘no’. Following God is not a recipe for a quiet life, nor is it a licence
complacently to pretend that everything is all right. ‘Experiencing God
means wanting reconciliation between Christians in the way we want
God himself’ (p. x).

Cavanagh recommends that we learn from the example of St Dominic.
Dominic was, we are told, so frustrated during a particular encounter
with some German speakers that he fervently prayed that God would
help him to understand their language and so become better able
to communicate with them. If we want to find reconciliation, form
relationships and build up the unity of the Church, Cavanagh argues, then
we should follow Dominic in trying to learn the ‘faith language’ of our
listeners and talk with them in their own terms (p. 8). Cavanagh urges us
to resist any temptation to be like the stereotypical Brit abroad, assuming
that everyone speaks English, and getting frustrated and shouting louder
if the other person does not understand what is being said (pp. 14–15).

Cavanagh perhaps takes this faith–language analogy too far when she
suggests that ‘To speak another language fluently is to understand what
makes a person “tick”, … to see things the way they do’ (p. 12). I wouldn’t
claim that I understand the mind of a French person, simply because I
can speak their language. This overstatement aside, however, Cavanagh’s
argument that we should always try to communicate using the language
of our audience, is powerful, apt and helpful.

Ironically, for a book about learning the ‘other’s’ language and trying
to understand the ‘other’ in their own terms, Cavanagh’s portrayal of
‘other’ Christians is frequently less sympathetic than it might have been,
especially in the later chapters. At no point did I feel that she had gone
beyond typical liberal stereotypes of the evangelical ‘other’. Although a
St Dominic-inspired attempt to speak the language of one’s hearers is
certainly a good approach when attempting to communicate with other
Christians, it is not a good approach for engaging with similar Christians
about other Christians. Finding God in Other Christians, therefore, while
persuasive, does not quite live up to its own aspirations of helping the
reader to engage generously with other Christians and so to find God in
their otherness.

- Tim Laundon

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